Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

New nuclear power connected to nuclear weapons – theme for May 17

The “new nuclear” lobby spruiks Generation IV nuclear reactors as helping prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are two reasons why the development of Generation IV nuclear reactors promotes nuclear proliferation.

  1. Every new nuclear reactor, of whatever kind, brings the risk of being used for nuclear weapons.
  2. The nuclear weapons industry badly needs a new “nuclear renaissance” for the continuing research, training education of nuclear experts.

This week, I’ll outline that first reason.

All nuclear power concepts, including Gen IVs, connect to  to the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)  For example, Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) would breed their own fuel (plutonium-239) from uranium-238 from depleted uranium. Theoretically, the process would make it very difficult or impossible to use the plutonium directly in nuclear weapons. But a special cycle could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Thorium fuelled reactors could also be used to irradiate uranium to produce weapon grade plutonium. The Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) or plutonium, used to start the thorium reactor, could be diverted for weapons production.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)  retain all the risks associated with supplying, maintaining, safeguarding, and dismantling large nuclear reactors, including weapons risks,  – only now those risks would be multiplied and decentralised. Although proponents of small reactors argue that stealing fissile material from the reactors is near impossible (via features such as a sealed core and the ability to bury the core underground), the risk is still higher than that of a large reactor. In addition, the smaller facilities required (e.g. containment structures) mean that attacks intending to destroy plants and spread nuclear waste may be more of a danger.

May 6, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

In Australia, new Generation IV nuclear power intimately connected with nuclear weapons – theme for May 17

Right now, a Parliamentary Committee is preparing to rubber stamp an ANSTO plan for Australia to sign up to take part in developing new nuclear reactors – Generation IV reactors.

For a start, most Gen IV nuclear reactors require the input of plutonium or enriched uranium to operate. So Australia would have to import these before being able to operate the  new reactors. So already, with the transport of these highly radioactive materials, there’ s the risk of terrorism, of materials being stolen for weapons. The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.

This advanced involvement in the nuclear fuel chain makes it a logical and not too difficult step for the new reactors to provide the means for making nuclear bombs, including radiological weapons – “dirty bombs”. As well, the reactors themselves form an attractive target for terrorism, or enemy attack.

The nuclear lobby, and especially the South Australian nuclear zealots would see the next step for Australia as nuclear weaponry, however much they might mouth platitudes about non-proliferation. One example of their machinations is the $50 billion  on submarines, intended for nuclear later. As of 2016 the Liberal-National Coalition does not support a prospective ban on the possession of nuclear weapons.

South Australia is proudly called the Defence State, for its strong network of defence research and industry. Strong advocates for the nuclear industry in South Australia have always pushed for the full nuclear chain, and for South Australia to be a nuclear reprocessing hub.

From the very start, nuclear power in Australia was intended as the route to nuclear weapons, starting with  the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.  

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program.

In 2009 the nuclear weapons contractor Raytheon set up in Australia – Raytheon Australia’s Industry Development Unit (IDU).

Nothing has changed, except that the nuclear lobby has intensified its focus on South Australia.

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry and politics international- theme for April 2017

The United Nations has just held the first of two global summits to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.   Sponsored by 57 nations, and with 125 nations represented. But the nuclear weapons nations did not participate.

Does this mean that the conference is meaningless? Perhaps. Yet, increasingly, public opinion supports nuclear disarmament, and those governments are being challenged, to explain their support for nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, it is something of a turbulent time in international politics, with elections in European nations, with UK and “Brexit” , with North Korea a continuing nuclear weapons worry, and with the unpredictability of USA’s President Trump, and his belligerent attitude to China. In this political climate, the risk of nuclear war continues to grow.

The other side of the nuclear story – “the peaceful nuke” is looking unsustainable. Globally, it’s in decline. Even in the nuclear poster boy China, the industry is now slowing, perhaps stalling.

Yet the somewhat frenzied promotion of nuclear power goes on. Why? Perhaps because it is uneconomic in the home country, so it’s imperative to sell it off to other countries. Perhaps because non-nuclear countries in south Asia, the Middle East, Africa, covet nuclear weapons – and “peaceful” nuclear power is the first step towards nuclear weapons.

It really is time that civil society of every country prevailed, over the militaristic leaders of nations, who are beholden to the nuclear weapons industry. Intelligent military personnel know that there will be no winners in a nuclear war. And nuclear weapons are useless against the suicidal individual terrorists, who now frighten the world.

It is time that civil society rejected the dirty dangerous, (and super expensive) “peaceful” nuclear industry, including those billionaire zealots for geewhiz “new nukes”.  Global energies, talents and funds, are needed for truly beneficial technologies in energy efficiency and clean renewables.

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Australia and international politics – theme for April 2017

It’s quite a macabre spectacle – watching Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sucking up to China’s government on the one hand, and to America’s government on the other.

You see, as our largest trading partner, China , is Australia’s biggest overseas customer, well we gotta keep them happy. But, oh dear, there’s America’s strong criticism of China’s activities in the South China Sea and USA sending a nuclear-powered supercarrier into those waters, and Julie Bishop backing USA, and criticising China 

Like the good little Deputy Sheriff  to America, Australia obediently boycotted the UN nuclear weapons ban talks. Donald Trump poses a new kind of problem – will we still mindlessly join America into military adventures, as we have always done in the past?

The global nuclear lobby badly wanted Australia to be the world’s nuclear toilet. South Australian people power had a splendid victory over that.  Australia’s small band of nuclear zealots still hope for this, but with the current financial crisis in the global industry, their chances fade.

On the climate change scene, Australia has the reputation of an international leper. Will the Turnbull government now cave in to Trump’s attitude of climate denial, and back out of the Paris climate treaty?

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Media and nuclear – theme for March 2017

Today’s news media is a smorgasbord of online blogs,Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, Linked-In and a hundred other online sites. Oh, and yes, there are still some online, and even print, newspapers. You remember those last. They employed reputable investigative journalists, who did fact-checking about their news sources.

With journalists dropping off employment like flies, anyone can write anything – no fact-checking needed. It might be fabricated.  It ‘s likely to be biased and inaccurate.
The “old media” – newspapers, radio, TV have long been vulnerable to uncritically disseminating propaganda articles from industry. Even more so, now, as they struggle financially. Industry handouts are much cheaper than real  journalism. That situation is a boon to the nuclear lobby.
The “new media” is also a boon to the nuclear industry. They already pay lobbyists,Twitter and Facebook users, and especially Youtube-ers to daily spin out propaganda items by the hundreds. Nuclear lobbyists make use of “bots” to send  tweets in multiples, which actually come from just one software programme. At the same time, nuclear companies continue to produce glossy, expensive, sophisticated films and TV series. Their latest effort will hit the cinemas soon –  The New Fire.
As if this media revolution were not enough, the nuclear industry now receives a new bonus, the  rise of fascism, pioneered
by Donald Trump, and perhaps soon to hit Europe and other countries. With an uncanny and Goebbels-like ability to home in on the right places in the media landscape, Trump makes brilliant use of  Twitter. Doesn’t matter if his tweets are lies – they are regurgitated across the world, and believed in by many.
Like all dictators, Trump’s first attack is on the media. Any journalism that Trump doesn’t like is “Fake Press”.  Reputable credible news sources like CNN and New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed News. are now “enemies of the people” , and banned from White House media briefings. Instead, Trump
crony publications like Breitbart are welcomed.
What does this mean for the nuclear industry? Well. probably Trump-dominated media will be a positive for them. Let’s not forget, Donald Trump is in power, for now, under suffrance from the Republican Party on behalf of the richest industrialists.
What does it all mean for us, writers and readers who seek genuine information?
Judith Donath of CNN said it for me: “help promote a culture that reveres veracity. Check your sources before you post anything. Support newspapers and other organizations that do good, reliable reporting. Discourage people in your own community when they promote stories that feel good to you, but are, alas, untrue. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/opinions/fake-news-stories-thrive-donath/

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, media | Leave a comment

Media and nuclear – Australia – theme for March 2017

The new media landscape – what does it mean for Australia and nuclear issues?  For one thing, the decline in mainstream media means that it’s cheaper and easier for mainstream media, particularly the Murdochracy, to abandon paying for true journalism and just regurgitate propaganda from government and the nuclear industry.

 Australia’s news media, print, radio and  TV continue to be under pressure, as people turn ever more to a variety of digital sources. Traditional news media lose advertising revenue, and good journalists lose their jobs.  I have written about this before. But now, it’s happening ever faster. Quality newspapers struggle, especially in the print versions. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are likely to move  from a daily to a weekend only printing. Still, print survives, and newer print news, like The Saturday Paper and The Monthly might just surprise us all.
 The ABC soldiers on, with TV,radio and online  news, in a climate of political pressure,and of repeated cutting  of its funds, and  threats  of  more cutting. In  some  areas,  such as ABC Radio National, one  detects dumbing  down of content. Late Night Live survives – Phillip Adams now calling it “Fake Night Live”
Online news – Independent Australia, Crikey, Online Opinion,  New Matilda etc battle on for financial survival, as the media landscape becomes an ecosystem of competing digital sources. Here some very fine journalism appears, from the usually unpaid critics of the nuclear industry, including internationally known experts on the subject, notably Dr Jim Green  and Dr Helen Caldicott.  At the same time, the well-heeled nuclear lobby also contributes articles.
 
Social  media is increasingly, where it’s at, especially for nuclear issues. Websites, Blogs,  Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Linked-In, Tumblr etc.
Environmental organisations have busy websites. But increasingly – it’s Youtube  and Facebook that now lead the pack.  Sadly, for Youtube, the pro  nuclear lobby has many sophisticated propaganda videos. Australia’s under-funded Aboriginal and environmental groups lack the resources to make great use of Youtube.
australia-social-media
 
Twitter is, at present, under-used by Australia’s nuclear-free activists, though Friends of The Earth tweets at @NuclearFreeAus

Meanwhile Australia’s pro nuclear lobbyistsare very active, and use sophisticated algorithms to churn out multiple tweets from just one source. Fortunately a lot of these seem quite stupid, spending much time on infantile trolling of  Dr Caldicott. Examples: @totterdell91  @thjr19 and a lot of their  fake clones, often adopting female names e.g Marcelina, EcoWife

 How do we manage  in the new media ecosystem?
 First, Australians who  care about their country and their planet need to make better use of social media in particular. And, we need to be aware of the traps in it. Our public social media sites are viewed by the nuclear lobby and Australia’s government, (often lackey to the nuclear lobby). Personal information can be used against you. Mistaken, inaccurate, unwise statements can be used against the environmental cause.
Above all, the new media landscape means that we have to exercise judgement in what we read and write. Look for accuracy. Look for credible sources, and quote these. As Donald Trump has taught us – there’s so much “fake news” out there.  I don’t think that Trump actually meant his own lies, here, But Trump has certainly been a force in hastening the already happening process of muddying the media waters.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, media | 1 Comment

NUCLEAR POWER and MEDIA – theme for September 2012

Just two years ago, this website focused on “media”  – mainstream and alternative. http://nuclear-news.net/information/media/   While that analysis is still appropriate –  it is looking sort of out of date.

In fact – there is a revolution going on in media.

Where do you go first for news today?   Not to the mainstream media.  It’s all happening first in  the Twitter world, the Facebook world,   Blogs, Youtube,  and many other “social media” worlds.    Blogging merges into news, and “blog” sites become news sites, for example ENENews.com – Energy News ,   http://enformable.com/ and http://nowarnow.wordpress.com/     These, and other websites harvest information, often from “dry” “academic” sources –  and present them in  a more news-digestible form.

Investigative journalism is still the core of true nuclear news.  But investigative journalists are up against the climate of financial stress in the mainstream media. Where a non profit blogger can quickly slap up a blog, investigative journalism takes great time and effort – and these true journalists must make a living.  Independent investigative journalists are thin on the ground –  very hard to spend the time, the effort, the fact checking, without an income.

This is the dilemma of nuclear news reporting today.  Occasionally now, the true disastrous state of the world’s nuclear peril IS revealed by a mainstream media journalist.

But, government and corporate pressures mean that this is not generally to be tolerated in  mainstream news media.

This is  a pity – because mainstream journalists do carry a certain professional credibility and accountability.

But for the present, we all have to rely on those very modern, and freer, sources, of new
 and social media –   and be vigilant in assessing their credibility.

The downside of “social media” – ONLINE ASTROTURFING.  Using paid writers, and now more often  bots – computer generated fake identities, corporations and goverments can churn out “comments” on websites, especially pro nuclear comments.

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry is a financial disaster- theme for February 2017

Tax - payers

A bunch of American billionaires is trying to save the astronomically expensive nuclear industry – by getting taxpayers to pay for even more astronomically costly “little new nukes”.

Meanwhile in China,  France UK, South Korea – and even in America, governments are desperately propping up the super costly “big old nukes’ .

In a world where charlatan Donald Trump can become USA President – the nuclear salesmen might well think  that any fraud can be perpetrated on the public.

text-SMRsBut not for long.

The genuinely clean energy transition is under way world-peaceful-nukewide, and becoming ever cheaper.

The “peaceful” nuclear industry is intrinsically linked to the multi #billion nuclear weapons industry. Yet even the nuclear weapons industry is under threat, with the coming UN nuclear  disarmament conference.

Even if concern for the public good does not stop the toxic nuclear industry – the unaffordable economic costs eventually will

February 10, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry- economic disaster for Australia – theme for February 2016

cliff-money-nuclear

Any economic argument for the nuclear industry was blown out of the water by the absolute discrediting of South Australia’s shonky Nuclear Royal Commission (NFCRC)’s push for importing nuclear wastes.

Australia’s nuclear lobby knew that the industry is not healthy, nor safe, nor clean, and is a disaster for the Aboriginal people. But, they didn’t care – saying that importing nuclear waste would make $billions. All thorough economic research said otherwise. Far from saving South Australia’s struggling economy, expanding the nuclear industry would most likely bring that State to bankruptcy.

Now the nuclear lobbyists are at it again – touting “new nukes” – small thorium nuclear reactors, (which would require importing enriched uranium or plutonium to get them working.) Even the pro nuclear NFCRC concluded  that these would not be economic for South Australia.

cool-peopleThe push for “new nukes” is driven partly by the vanity of a few would-be-famous young men, partly by the nuclear enthusiasts within the defence lobby, and partly by the general desperation of the global nuclear industry to make it look as if they’re succeeding.

Whichever way it is, South Australia will be the loser if nuclear lobbyists win. South Australia has the opportunity to lead in 21st Century renewable energy technologies. With no help from the climate-denying, anti-renewables, Turnbull government, South Australia is up against it.

The uranium market is in continual gloom. Any expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia is a recipe for economic disaster –  and a ludicrous contrast to Australia’s wonderful opportunities in renewable energy and clean agriculture.

January 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, Christina themes | Leave a comment

Australia’s clean transition to renewable energy – theme for January 2017

energy-transition

The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive  history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.

rare-earths-pollution-ChinaTwo notorious historic examples of pollution from the production of rare earths are the Bukit Merah  project in Malaysia , and China’s project in Inner Mongolia

China is now controlling   rare earths’ production in a cleaner way.  but it would be naïve and simplistic to assume that its pollution problems have completely gone away.

Meanwhile Australian companies, too, are mining and processing rare earths. Lynas, in Malaysia, has had a history pf inadequate management of radioactive wastes, but now has improved its practices. https://www.lynascorp.com/Pages/Environment.aspx.  Greenland Minerals and Energy, about to mine rare earths in Greenland, is criticised for unsatisfactory planning for its radioactive waste tailings. http://arcticjournal.com/oil-minerals/1583/uranium-opponents-look-other-sectors-job-growth.

3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:


rare-earth-recyclingDesign for recycling. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.

Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful  consumption of modern electronic gadgets –  often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture. http://chinawaterrisk.org/resources/analysis-reviews/can-we-build-a-clean-smart-future-on-toxic-rare-earths/

clean-technologyDesign for green technologies that don’t require rare earths

Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport  of renewables do mean environmental disturbance.  But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.

The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, energy, rare earths | 2 Comments

Australia’s future energy – clean renewables, not dirty nuclear or coal – theme for January 2017

Renewable energy transition is Australia’s future, whether Prime Minister Turnbull likes it or not.

Aust renewable energy

Fossil fuel industries tell the Turnbull government what to think, and what to do. That’s why the government plans to axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

However, renewable energy IS happening in Australia.  Renewables with energy storage, are hereAustralia can get to zero emissions, as rooftop solar booms. Report finds 100% renewable grid plan“reliable, robust and stable” Energy expert Giles Parkinson has exposed the  misinformation on rooftop solar and battery storage

While the Federal govt dithers, some States develop their own Renewable Energy Targets. Australia’s electricity industry strongly calls for a carbon price, and switch to clean energy. General Electric supports State-based renewable energy targets. EnergyAustralia is investing $1.5 billion in new wind and solar projects 

This website continues to follow developments – see the category Energy.  Here are some of the latest items:

Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra shows off its renewable energy success. Australia’s first sun-tracking solar farm opens at Majura.

Victoria. A NEW wave of wind farm developments is sweeping this State. New 116-turbine wind farm for the Wimmera. Solar energy park is seeking co-operative venture with sheep farming! Solar cooling systems in Echuca and Ballarat.

South Australia. Port Augusta is attracting solar energy developers.  South Australia’s home solar batteries provided electricity throughout recent blackout.  Sundrop Farms – desert solar powered agriculture -now internationally applauded.

Western Australia. Western Australian town to host large renewable energy grid.  Retirees trading solar power. Solar switch for one of Australia’s biggest companies funded by community. Carnegie Wave Energy to build its first commercial wave plant in ENGLAND

Queensland. A month  ahead of schedule, Queensland’s huge new solar farm is up and running. Queensland govt’s push for solar power on all government buildings.

New South Wales. Sydney students pioneer a shared solar and battery system for apartment block.

Tasmania. Tidal energy – Australian Maritime College launches new turbine in Tamar River

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, energy | 5 Comments

Australia’s nuclear history – scandals and successes

text-from-the-archivesAustralia has a secret and scandalous nuclear history. But at the same time, Australia has a fine history of successes by the nuclear free movement. Aboriginals have been at the forefront, but not alone, as Australia also has a proud record of environmental and anti nuclear activism.

Australia history

From the archives. Each week, this site will be reposting items from the past. Lest we forget:

U.S. military bases made Australia a nuclear target

Australia feared nuclear attack over US ties: archives ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Emma Rodgers 1 Jan 2011, Malcolm Fraser’s cabinet was warned in 1980 that boosting its military ties with the US could put Australia at risk of a nuclear attack and expose it to involvement it in American operations contrary to its national interest, secret cabinet documents show. Continue reading

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, history | Leave a comment

Nuclear history – from the archives – theme for December 2016

Today, journalism is in  a sorry mess. Yet still, there are courageous examples of investigative journalism –  such as the McClatchy report on nuclear workers’ health.   All too often, revealing and informative reports on nuclear matters are forgotten, as celebrity sex scandals and sport dominate the mass media.

This month we will remember and refresh stories from our archives.  It’s important that, while we look at current events, these events are illuminated by knowledge of their history.  Especially today, as the nuclear industry struggles desperately to survive – and to portray itself as “clean, green and of course, peaceful”, the truth of its dirty history must be remembered.

history-pics

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

From Australian nuclear archives – lest we forget – theme for December 2016

text-from-the-archivesFor December 2016, this website will be republishing significant articles from past issues. Historic articles are interesting in themselves, but more importantly, give insight into current problems in Australia.

australia-history-1

Aboriginal history – and what the global nuclear industry has done to Aboriginal people is the most important issue in Australia.

It is not, however, the only issue.  The effects of the nuclear industry, in particular, of uranium mining, have not only permanently trashed some land, and threatened precious water, but have also impacted on health of white Australians , as well as black.

In Australian politics, there has been a sorry history of kow towing to the British government and nuclear industry, and to the American.

So called “Australian” companies e.g BHP Billiton ( 75% English owned) and Heathgate  (owned by USA weapons maker General Atomics) portray the false idea that nuclear is an Australian industry.

Australia had a proud history of promoting nuclear disarmament – trashed more recently in its readiness to sell uranium to India ( non signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty) and to Ukraine – a corruption basket case).

 

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, history | Leave a comment

Politics – the Trump effect – theme for November 2016

The world is still reeling from the news that Americans have elected the narcissistic and unpredictable Donald Trump. The man has spent two years blustering his way into this role. He has made dramatic and unnerving pronouncements, which he will probably not be able to carry out.

Still, the world is left with an America ruled by  a pro nuclear, climate change denying Republican government, and the  likelihood of other national governments following America in that direction.

At least, the Trump election is galvanising opposition in USA. And, very diplomatically spoken leaders such as Angela Merkel, are indicating that they will not be swayed by the climate denialist forces.

trump-tightrope-2016

Across the planet, national leaders with nuclear power are beholden to the nuclear industry. Even more so, when they have nuclear weapons. Also across the planet, the people are fearful of nuclear weapons, and more and more often now, opposed to nuclear power, with its dangers, its radioactive wastes, and its ever climbing costs.

The well-being of the people, particularly indigenous people, comes last,  way behind the politicians’ subservience to the defense and nuclear industries.

Still the nuclear marketing push continues, backed by political leaders, who hope that the next nuclear catastrophe won’t happen in their country, and during their term of office. That catastrophe will happen, perhaps in 40 years’ time, perhaps next week.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes | 1 Comment